Famous for Catching Fire: Chevrolet Volt
Despite a reputation for catching on fire, the Chevy Volt is really a fine car with modern fuel-saving technology that was developed entirely in America.
Try typing “Chevy Volt” into Google, and chances are that the word “fire” will appear near the top of the suggestions list. How can a car be famous for catching fire when not one has actually caught fire in normal real-world use? Welcome to the wonderful world of American politics. The Volt is a more practical solution to the problems presented by pure electric vehicles, but it is unfortunately also the subject of much political discourse.
The Volt is really a simple enough concept. It has a battery which allows it to travel 35 miles (slightly less than half that of a Nissan Leaf) on purely electric power, but if you don’t manage to plug in before this runs out, a gasoline engine will kick on and supply electricity to the motor. The pure electric range is enough for most Volt owners most of the time, but the range extender is one of those things which you’ll be extremely thankful for when you need it. But it’s not unusual for Volt owners to go months between fill-ups, and the very first customer to have taken delivery of a Volt has reported using only 26 gallons of gas in the two years he’s owned the car.
GM decided to go the extended-range route because a pure EV is still, realistically, fairly impractical. GM knew that asking customers to buy a car which couldn’t be driven a few counties away and then back without an 8-hour charging break was absurd, and its reward has been much, much higher sales than Nissan has had for the Leaf. The politics of the electric car date back to the late Nineties. GM had built an electric car called the EV1. It was the most advanced car of its type at the time, but as much money as GM had sunk into the project, it ended up deciding that the car wasn’t worth the cost of manufacturing any more.